Medicinal Cannabis
Justin Brash, who suffers from HIV-AIDS, lights up his pipe containing cannabis during one of his daily intakes of the drug in front of the Sydney Opera House May 29, 2003. Reuters/David Gray

Growing marijuana for medicinal use is now legal throughout Australia. Also covered by the Narcotic Drug Amendment Act 2016, which took effect on Sunday, is the manufacture of cannabis products for medicinal purposes and to conduct related research.

The nationwide legalisation of growing medicinal cannabis comes after New South Wales legalised medicinal marijuana in August. With these changes, it aims to ensure there would be a domestic supply of medicinal cannabis products not readily available for import.

Health Minister Sussan Ley says patients and doctors would gain access to a safe, reliable and legal source of marijuana for medicinal use. Until Sunday, it was difficult for Australian patients to access medicinal marijuana from overseas sources, Sydney Morning Herald reports.

To cultivate marijuana for medical purposes, licences must be secured from the Office of Drug Control. Applicants must show the site would be secure. The licence could be for cultivation and production, research or manufacturing, Canberra Times reports.

Brett Mitchell, chairman of MGC Pharmaceuticals which deals with medicinal cannabis, says the licence approval must be vigorous. He estimates the industry – although it was illegal in Australia until Oct 30 – was worth $100 million.

Using marijuana for recreational purposes remain illegal throughout Australia, Ley stresses. She adds people applying for licence must pass a security test and meet strict requirements. Individual territories and states still get the last say on who could use medicinal marijuana.